Lupe Fiasco sits down with renowned author and journalist Peter Bailey to discuss the business of hip hop for NBC Nitecap, and to talk about how its gradual commercialisation has affected its ability to provide social commentary.
In the first clip, the politically-aware Chicago rapper begins by making a defence for “ignorant” hip hop, arguing that it would be hypocritical to judge his peers for wanting more dollars, considering the fact that they haven’t grown up around money. He says that he too enjoyed the sudden leap from poverty to riches, but reveals that his admiration for spiritualists like Gandhi and Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X led him to question what success really was.
He ends the first half of the interview by discussing the power of cursing, and how clean records sometimes represent a compromise rather than true art.
In part two, Lupe gets deeper into some of the aforementioned issues. He asks rappers to take a step back from their music and think about why they’re making it. Are they trying to make art or just catering to commercial needs? He, aligns himself with the art rather than the commodity, admitting that if he’d never got into rap he’d “probably be in the theatre, probably making nothing, just being a stage hand…”
Lupe goes on to talk about Miami artists like Trick Daddy, whose autobiography Bailey helped craft, and Rick Ross, critiquing some of the get-rich-fast messages which particular rappers put out there. “You have to realise that there’s a relationship between what you say and what happens in the streets,” he comments.
In what turns out to be the most meaningful part of the interview he asks young black men to think about what they actually want- “You wanna live sixty years in prison, because you was rich for a summer, because you had a Maserati for a summer?”